Activists have initiated a postcard campaign to oppose the dilution of the Right to Information (RTI) Act through Digital Personal Data Protection Bill (DPDPB), 2022.
Campaigners are sending postcards to the Prime Minister asking him to ensure that the DPDPB doesn’t override the RTI Act. They are also looking at petitions, social media outreach and resolutions passed at the gram sabha levels.
The proposed DPDPB has four provisions that have shaken the activists and civil society members. Among them are deletion of section 8 (1) (j) of the RTI Act that allows personal data to be given for transparency. Also contentious is the sweeping definition of ‘person’ in the proposed bill that encompasses everything from a person, to Hindu undivided family, company, firm, artificial juristic person, body of individuals (incorporated or not) and institutions.
What the activists are saying
Bhaskar Prabhu of Mahiti Adhikar Manch, an RTI propagating body, said, “If this Bill is passed, we feel a lot of information, such as discretionary funds and work orders, will not be provided. We want to safeguard the RTI in the present form. For the sake of transparency, a check on the administration’s functioning and proper utilisation of funds, these details should be in the public domain.”
Prabhu has listed four points in the postcard and aims to send 5,000 of them. “Over 200 have already been dispatched,” he said. The points on his postcard to the PM read – publishing of DPDPB in all official languages and details of which should reach Gram Sabha level; no amendments to RTI Act through DPDPB; and the RTI Act should not be overridden by DPDPB. He said they are also trying to meet MPs and will be campaigning through banners on cars.
Petitions sent to PM
Gaurang Vora of Petition Group has already sent petitions to the PM and the Minister for Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT). He said, “We have sent two-line petitions marking our objection… Even if political leaders don’t see them, the sheer volume sends out a message. We are also making use of social media by tagging them.”
Other activists, such as former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi, said they will be approaching gram sabhas to pass resolutions like in the case of Kerala.
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